Stomach ulcers are painful sores that occur in the stomach lining caused by gradual weakening of the protective mucus layer. Regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Naproxen) and infection caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori damages and exposes the first layer of the inner lining to harmful juices inside the stomach.
What Causes Stomach Ulcers to Flare up?
Other causes of stomach ulcers are rare. However, in some cases it is a result of an excess or deficiency of digestive fluids in the stomach and duodenum. Ulcers can be a result of:
- Bacterial infection caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
- Regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and many other doctor prescribed medicines.
Common Stomach Ulcer Symptoms
Persistent pain in the abdomen between the breastbone and the navel is the typical symptom of stomach ulcer. It usually comes and goes. The burning pain may be relieved by taking antacid tablets. In some cases food makes the discomfort more painful. The distressing pain may awake you from sleep.
Other symptoms which may appear include: bloating, belching, vomiting, nausea, feeling weak and weight loss.
Though gastric ulcers normally heal without treatment, you shouldn't ignore their symptoms. If not appropriately treated, ulcers can lead to serious health risks:
- Bleeding ulcer
- Perforation (a rupture inside the stomach)
- Gastric outlet obstruction (GOO) mechanically obstructs stomach emptying.
Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can result in any of the above indications without warning. The risk particularly affects older people and those with previous history of having peptic ulcer disease.
Foods to Eat and Avoid with Stomach Ulcers
Remember that the leading source of gastric ulcers is the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and the frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Eating certain types of foods will not likely help you get rid of ulcer - it is only use to enhance the ulcer treatment prescribed.
There are certain foods that can extremely complicate ulcer symptoms and slow the healing recovery. The level of discomfort is different from one person to another. For example, you may not have any side effects to a particular food that is easily affecting another person seriously.
Keep in mind that non-prescription medicines and antacid drugs only provide temporary relief. They only cover the indication of ulcers and do not heal the damaged stomach tissues caused by ulcer, which is the real issue.
People suffering from ulcers are best suited to eat low acid content fruits such as apples, prunes, peaches, pears, grapes, strawberries, kiwifruit, bananas, mangoes and melons.
Do not eat all citrus fruits like high-acid oranges, pineapples, grapefruit, blueberries, cranberries, tangerines, lemons and canned fruits. These fruits can trigger excessive acid production in the stomach.
Eat vegetables that do not cause pain, irritation or flatulence. Broccoli, carrots, cucumber, cabbage, radishes, cauliflower, beans, peas, leeks, and brussels sprouts are gassy vegetables and may not be compatible in your ulcer diet. Also do not eat onions, garlic, celery and spicy food like chili peppers and garlic powder. Tomatoes and products that contain tomato (sauces, paste and juices) are high in acid and may cause stomach discomfort.
A limited diet of lean meats help alleviate ulcer symptoms. Lean meats such as chicken/turkey ( skin removed), pork and beef with the fat trimmed off. These foods are high in protein that help ease stomach pain and restore affected tissues. Avoid high-fat proteins such as processed meats and whole fat dairy products because foods like these can increase acid output in your stomach which can adversely affect sensitive stomach areas and intensify the pain.
Decaf drinks and low-acid juices usually are safe to drink if you have a stomach ulcer. Drink mild teas and plenty of water. Limit or totally avoid all caffeinated drinks, such as hot cocoa, regular and decaf coffee, green and black as well as alcoholic beverages. Avoid all citrus and vegetable juices; they are high in acid which can cause stomach pain.
Although most people are convinced that drinking milk is an effective way to calm stomach ulcers, it has in fact been connected to increases in peptic ulcer cases .Most often, dairy is not good to eat or consume if you are suffering from gastric ulcers. However, in order to get enough calcium and other essential nutrients from dairy foods, it is necessary to keep many of these foods in your diet. Buy the low fat brands of cream cheese, cottage cheese and fermented cream to get all of the nutrients that your body needs while preventing ulcers and aiding to bring down the other digestive problems you are experiencing.
Other foods that are safe to eat include pasta, rice, cereals, wholegrain bread, biscuits and potatoes. Consume dried beans and peas carefully, as they produce gas that may cause stomach discomfort. Consume gassy foods in moderation until you figure out how they upset your stomach. Avoid fried foods and most junk foods such as French fries, nachos, cup cakes, potato chips and cheese burgers.
Include in your diet healthy oils such as canola, walnut, grape seed, and olive oil. Avoid butter and margarine.
Try not to use too much black pepper, chili powder and red pepper in your meals. These condiments often cause heartburn which aggravate your stomach ulcer.
Do's and Don'ts When Treating Stomach Ulcers
Even though foods do not generally cause ulcers, certain foods can make your stomach acidic and further worsen your ulcer. Eating ulcer-friendly foods may minimize the burning pain and help your recover from ulcer fast.
- Chewing your food properly is important
- Eat adequately. Many people have a hard time doing this.
- Eat and swallow your food slowly. Try to taste and appreciate your meal.
- Sit correctly or stand up a few times when you're eating
- Prefer low fat foods instead of high fat foods
- Do not eat food at least two hours before going to bed.
- Drink plenty of water. Normally, a glass of water can ease stomach ache within several minutes. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before meal and two to three hours after a meal. By doing this helps reduce ulcer pain normally.
- Have three compact meals and three light snacks every day. Eat your meal regularly to avoid periods of being hungry.
- Know the foods available to you that include dairy products, caffeinated drinks, oily and fried foods, foods with tomato, and hot spices. These types of foods can bother your stomach - you can experiment and adjust your consumption to avoid further irritation.
- You should not drink a lot of tea or coffee - drinks containing caffeine raises acid levels.
- Completely abstain from alcohol - drinking increases acid levels as well.
- Cigarette smoking - the nicotine in cigarettes elevates acid levels. Smoking has been known to slow recovery from stomach ulcer.
- Be careful not to take any form of aspirin. Always check with your doctor before taking any meds.
- Pain relievers and arthritis drugs containing ibuprofen can cause ulcers and prevent the healing process of the damaged stomach lining.
- Antacids need to be taken in moderation or avoid it completely - the majority of antacids have magnesium than can trigger diarrhea.
- Avoid eating foods that causes stomach discomfort - no matter how delicious the foods are.
How to Know if You Have Stomach Ulcers?
Cynthia cheam on June 25, 2018:
Peter A Edwards on April 28, 2016:
Some very good advice, in the past I have had an ulcer. Milk would have been on of the worst things I would drink.
Eating small portions and more often was the best thing, as instead of feeling ill I could eat and not feel that I had over eaten.
Being on a Gluten Free Diet has been of tremendous benefit. Asking the right things when you should when something is wrong is a must with any illness or disease.
The majority of people do not want something wrong with them, yet when they are feeling poorly, will not go and ask their doctor. A catch 22 if you have Coeliac / Celiac Disease unless you get tested you will never know.
Kala on December 17, 2014:
Thanks for the useful information.